Monday, March 28, 2016

Jack Black's Dead Red Root Beer

I cracked into this root beer to have a few sips and then to use it in a pork roast recipe.

Jack Black's Dead Red Root Beer


Brand: Jack Black's Dead Red Root Beer.

Origin: Gardena, CA?

Purchase Place: Frattallone's Ace Hardware, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This was a caffeinated root beer, which is a little rare. It had quite the head, and was pretty smooth. But there was too much caramel flavor for me. If you like smooth and caramelly, then try this. But if you're not a fan of caramel, stay away.

Score: 5.5 out of 10.


(And here's the link to the "recipe" for the "root beer pulled pork" that I made with this root beer.)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Q Kola Spectacular Kola

I tried this when I needed a caffeine boost recently:

Q Kola Spectacular Kola


I noticed it had some interesting ingredients for a cola: it was sweetened with organic agave, and it had extracts of cinnamon, cloves, coriander, kola nut, lemon, lime, orange, and nutmeg. And it noted that it has the original spices of John Pemberton's original Coca Cola recipe "without the syrupy sweetness of today's factory colas." Worth a try.


Brand: Q Kola Spectacular Kola.

Origin: Brooklyn, NY.

Purchase Place: Lunds Grocery Store, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Organic Agave.

Review: This had a relatively traditional cola flavor, but was much sharper than that. Of all of the unique ingredients, I could really taste the cinnamon and a bit of the lemon and lime. It was just a little too sharp for me, verging almost on bitter. But it was a decent, unique cola that had an unexpected tang to it.

Score: 5.5 out of 10.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Pulled Pork with Root Beer

Earlier today, we made a pork roast with root beer. We bought a fatty shoulder butt roast from Target. WE USUALLY DO A PORK LOIN, AND WE SHOULD HAVE STUCK WITH THAT - THIS BUTT ROAST WAS SO FATTY THAT IT WAS A LOT OF WORK. Oh well. Now we know.

Butt roast.  Hee hee.
This butt roast was $4 off because it was about to expire. So a 4.5 lb roast for $7.

Butt roast in the crock.
In the crockpot.

Crock ready to go.
Covered in seasoning salt and an onion. About to be doused in root beer.

In goes a bottle of root beer.
In goes a bottle of root beer. 

I cooked it on low for about 2 hours, and then on high for about 2 more hours. So 4 hours later, it looked like this:

Root beer pork roast.
Ugly, fatty, but tasty!

Shredding root beer pork roast.
Shredded pork back in the crock, fat chucks in upper left of jelly roll pan,
shredding meat in the middle, and juices with onions in the bowl to the right.

The fatty roast was a pain to shred. I put all the shredded pork back in the crock, cut up about 3/4 of the onions and added them, and poured in 1/2 to 3/4 of the liquid. I also added some salt and a little more seasoning. After 30 more minutes on low, it was juicy and flavorful:

Shredded root beer pork roast.
Finished root beer pork roast!

Like I mentioned at the top, we should have done this with a loin as we've done in the past. This shoulder butt roast was a bit too fatty and much more work. In the past we made a loin much like this with root beer, and once we made BBQ root beer pulled pork that was tasty too.

Cicero Beverage Co. Salted Caramel Root Beer

I had this after an 8K road race yesterday:

Cicero Beverage Co. Salted Caramel Root Beer


Brand: Cicero Beverage Co. Salted Caramel Root Beer.

Origin: Chicago, IL.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: I didn't expect much going into this because I'm not a huge "salted caramel" fan. But this was worse than I could have imagined. I thought MAYBE it was just me, so I had my wife try a sip - she loves salted caramel ice cream. But she took a drink and said "oh that's RANK!" It tasted like salty soda, which is not something that's good. I'm going to give this a score of 1.5, which makes it officially the WORST root beer I've ever had. I could only try 2 sips of it before dumping the rest.

Score: 1.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

O-So Grape Soda

I recently enjoyed this:

O-So Grape Soda


Brand: O-So Grape Soda.

Origin: Mukilteo, WA.

Purchase Place: Frattallone's Ace Hardware, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This had a pretty classic grape flavor. It may have been smoother than any grape soda I've ever had. Strong flavor and went down easy. Just the right amount of sweetness without being too much.

Score: 8 out of 10.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Olde Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer

This root beer had the WORST label I'd ever seen.

Olde Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer
It looks like it was designed by a 9-year-old who's using a computer for the 3rd time ever.

Olde Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer
Seriously. Look at this label. And that's not discoloration
at the top and bottom - that's part of the design.


Brand: Olde Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer.

Origin: Bristol, RI.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: The taste lived up to the label: it wasn't great. There was a bite that was OK, but the aftertaste was just a little off. A bit "burnt" or chemically. I don't get any special "molasses" flavor from it, and molasses isn't an ingredient. I noticed it was bottle by Empire, and that makes sense: I've had 4 other Empire sodas, and they've averaged about 4.5, so just below average on my rating scale. This was just below average too.

Score: 4 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Leninade Soda

My wife was at Gerten's Greenhouse in Inver Grove Heights over the weekend, and she brought me this:

The bottle is full of puns: "Get hammered & sickled!"
"A taste worth standing in line for!"


Brand: Leninade.

Origin: Gardena, CA.

Purchase Place: Gerten's Greenhouse, Inver Grove Heights, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This tasted mainly like carbonated lemonade with a bit of fruit punch mixed in. Or maybe that fruit punch flavor is a mental thing because it's pink. It's not bad. But nothing special. All of the puns on the bottle are entertaining: by the ingredients list it says "Drink Comrade! Drink! It's this or the Gulag!"

Score: 5.5 out of 10.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Caruso's Limoncello Italian Style Soda

I had this with supper last night:

Caruso's Limoncello Italian Style Soda



Brand: Caruso's Limoncello Italian Style Soda.

Origin: Redding, California.

Purchase Place: Frattallone's Ace Hardware, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: This had a nice tart flavor to it, but it wasn't so tart that it was undrinkable. It was someone between a lemon and a lime flavor, but it wasn't "lemon lime" (if that makes any sense). This was pretty good.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Henry Reinhard's Root Beer

Enjoyed another soda in my classroom:

Henry Reinhard's Root Beer

Henry Reinhard's Root Beer


Brand: Henry Reinhard's Root Beer.

Origin: Colfax, CA.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup (and honey flavor).

Review: This was super smooth and really good. The bottle said "draught style head," and it didn't disappoint - it had a great, long-lasting head. There was just the slightest hint of anise, and a nice vanilla flavor as well.

When I was nearly finished drinking it, I noticed the bottom of the label said that it had artificial and natural flavors "including sassafras, vanilla, and honey." I've mentioned that honey as a sweetener is only OK in certain sodas, and I usually don't like the flavor it gives to root beers, but it's so nicely subtle here that it's quite good. (And honey is not on the ingredients list, so I'm assuming it's one of the artificial flavors.) I could see some people complaining that this is TOO smooth, but if you like a smooth root beer, try this one. It's near the top of my root beer list!

Score: 9.5 out of 10.